The Marlins aren’t trying to trade Jose Fernandez, and they’re telling teams they have no intention of doing so anytime soon, according to one top team official.
“He’s not available,” said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. “We haven’t made him available. But it doesn’t stop the phone calls from coming.”
Fernandez was a hot topic on the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings, with numerous outlets reporting that at least three teams — the Dodgers, Yankees and Diamondbacks — had contacted the Marlins about their star pitcher.
Hill said none of that is surprising.
“When you have a talented player, you’re going to get calls on them,” Hill said. “And this is the place where that happens. It’s all part of the Winter Meetings experience.
“For the most part, there really hasn’t been anything to talk about with him.”
Hill’s emphatic comments all but squashed various trade rumors throughout the day involving Fernandez.
Several indicated that when approached about Fernandez, the Marlins countered with pie-in-the-sky proposals about what it would take to acquire the 23-year-old ace.
The New York Post quoted one unidentified major-league executive as saying, “The cost [for Fernandez] is so overwhelming that I don’t think he is really available.”
The Marlins were reportedly telling teams that they would want high-end prospects and major-league-ready talent — starting pitchers, in particular — to help them win in 2016.
But the asking price is so great that many questioned whether the Marlins have any real intention of dealing him.
Hill told reporters last week that the Marlins aren’t actively dangling Fernandez in trade discussions.
“He sits at the front of our rotation,” Hill said. “We are not shopping Jose Fernandez. I don’t know what more I can say. He’s a good pitcher, one of the best in the league, so you’re going to get asked about him.
“But we are not shopping Jose Fernandez.”
Fernandez is under team control for three more seasons and remains relatively inexpensive. He is projected to make $2.2 million next season in what will be his first year of arbitration eligibility.
But the longer the Marlins hang on to Fernandez, the less the Marlins can expect to receive for him in a trade, as his value will diminish in coming years as he approaches free agency.
MISSED ON MILEY
The Marlins, who have made no secret of their desire to acquire one or two starting pitchers, made a run at durable left-hander Wade Miley, who pitched for Boston last season, sources said.
But the Red Sox ended up trading him Monday to Seattle for reliever Carson Smith and left-hander Roenis Elias.
The Marlins thought they had a trade worked out for Miley last December, only to have it fall through when the Red Sox swooped in an acquired him from the Diamondbacks.
Sources said the Marlins also asked Boston about pitcher Joe Kelly.
THIS AND THAT
▪ The Marlins made a low-level move Monday, claiming minor-league left-handed reliever Mike Strong from the Brewers.
Strong went 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 38 relief appearances for the Brewers’ Double A affiliate last season but struggled after being promoted to Triple A, going 1-1 with a 7.16 ERA in 12 outings.
▪ Hill said that the Marlins met with the agent for Dee Gordon to discuss a long-term contract extension for the All-Star second baseman and reigning National League batting champion.
“We have spoken to him and talks are ongoing,” said Hill, terming the discussions as preliminary. “It’s nice that he wants to be here as much as we want him to be here.”
▪ Hill said Giancarlo Stanton has been hitting off a tee “pain-free.”
Stanton missed the second half of last season with a hand injury.
“He [took] 60 swings off the tee, which is part of his first step in his offseason hitting program, and said he felt good,” Hill said.